Following widespread -- but unconfirmed -- Thursday morning rumors that Rogers had elected to transfer out of the Volunteer program, likely to FCS Georgia State, Derek Dooley told reporters that Rogers was indeed no longer practicing with the team after participating in the team's first two spring practices. But Dooley also said Rogers was still part of the roster and had not been suspended, specifying that the All-SEC receiver has "some things he has to do internally" before he's allowed to rejoin the team.
"A lot of times we don't know when a guy will be back," Dooley said. "It could be any time -- it could be tomorrow, it could be today."
Asked about a report that Rogers had already chosen to transfer out, Dooley said "nobody has told me that."
But the odds of Rogers actually returning to the Volunteer fold and seeing the Neyland Stadium field seem slimmer than ever. Thursday's non-suspension is already Rogers' second non-suspension of the 2011-2012 offseason, following a similar disciplinary action by Dooley in December.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Thursday evening that the earlier ban from team activities came in reponse to Rogers issuing "a physical threat to a strength coach."
A permanent departure on Rogers' part would be a staggering blow to a Volunteer offense that needs every hand on deck--particularly hands that hauled in an SEC-leading 67 receptions for an SEC-leading 1,040 yards in 2011. Though the return of a healthy Justin Hunter (the former Freshman All-SEC wideout who missed most of 2011 with an ACL tear) would be a nice immediate replacement, past Hunter, a Rogers-less (and DeAnthony Arnett-less) Vol wide receivers' corp looks thin indeed; senior Zach Rogers (14 catches, 189 yards) would be the only returning wideout, aside from Hunter, who caught more than three passes in 2011.
With the Vol running game still a work in progress -- to put it as charitably as we possibly can -- Tyler Bray and the Tennessee passing game is going to have to carry a tremendous amount of weight if Dooley is going to find the eight wins he needs to coach again in 2013. Can Bray can manage it without Rogers? It's highly debatable--but after two blow-ups in four months, there seems a good chance we'll all find out together come this fall.
For more updates from Tennessee's spring practice -- and beyond -- follow Daniel Lewis's CBSSports.com Volunteer RapidReports.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.